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Tim Carney: Should Congress take lectures from revolving-door corporate lobbyists?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

If your idea of political virtue is bipartisanship, that generally puts you on the same side as revolving-door corporate lobbyists. Roll Call’s Kate Ackley gets it right in her lead:

Anyone who’s lost hope that bipartisanship can thrive in Washington during the fiscal cliff standoff ought to look to K Street. And specifically Democrat Richard Gephardt and Republican Dennis Hastert.

The people in Washington most interested in setting aside  ideology, principles, and partisanship are lobbyists. Guys like Gephardt and Hastert, whose clients include Boeing, GE, Goldman Sachs, and Lorillard Tobacco, are fully in the “let’s side aside differences and pass something” side.

Roll Call continues:

The pair recruited a group of other leaders to sign a Washington Post op-ed stressing the need for compromise. They include other K Streeters such as former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., who is at Patton Boggs; Alston + Bird’s former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan.; and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who is with DLA Piper; among others.

Gephardt blames Washington’s problems on “the extreme edges” and the SuperPACs. Indeed, SuperPACs take power away from K Street lobbyists like Gephardt by enabling interested parties to seek influence outside of the K Street corridor, instead taking their case directly to voters. It also means that the likes of Boeing and GE aren’t the only ones playing the influence game. Rich people more driven by political views than profit — think George Soros and Charles Koch — play the game, too.

The Roll Call article does a good job of bringing together something our media fawns over — bipartisanship — with something our media often criticizes: revolving door lobbyists. Many other outlets have let the bipartisanship aspect blind them to the lobbyist detail. See media adulation of health-sector lobbyist Bob Dole and health-sector investor Bill Frist for their support of Obamacare. When unregistered lobbyist Tom Daschle appeared with Frist at the Bipartisan Policy Council, the media coverage generally ignored their lobbying and financial ties.

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